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handyman on call

Chimney caps can keep critters and rain out

Q. After my roof was redone, the roofer suggested covering the chimney flues with a chimney cap. How can I tell how many flues I have, and how can they be covered with a cap? He said I have two or three flues.

V.D. FROM BELMONT

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A. It’s a matter of semantics, and your roofer used the wrong term. A flue is simply a vertical hole in the chimney, and the roofer should have explained. What he meant was flue liners, hollow clay blocks that make up the lining of one flue.

You can determine how many are in your chimney by looking at the top of the chimney, perhaps with binoculars, to see how many liners are sticking up above the chimney cap.

And that brings up another confusing thing about chimneys: chimney caps. There are two kinds, one is a concrete cover on the chimney, sloped to allow rainwater to drain and holed for the flues. The other chimney cap is a stainless steel cage-type cover with a solid roof on top, which will keep critters out and help keep weather out of the flues.

Have a chimney sweep install a cage-type cap over the entire chimney, not just over each flue.

Q. The painter wants to power wash my vertical siding and trim. The trim is peeling a lot and the siding, with a Cabot stain, is not peeling at all. Should I say no to the power washing? My vertical siding has shrunk a little and I’m afraid power washing will get water behind the siding.

CURIOUS

A. Power washing should not be done if there is any chance of getting water behind the siding, or messing up areas outside the trim. So say no to power washing, and yes to sanding the trim to get rid of the peeling paint, then apply two thin coats of a latex solid color stain. He can stain the Cabot-stained siding with the same stain if it needs it, but not if it looks good.

Q. My kitchen linoleum (sheet vinyl) looks marvelous and is in excellent shape. I put down a floor mat at the sink, although my husband warned me that a mat might cause the linoleum under it to fade. Sure enough it did fade, although it has improved a little since I took away the mat. How can I get that area to match the rest of the linoleum?

MRS. WRONG

A. Just let it continue awhile to get closer to the rest of the linoleum. With luck and a few weeks, it will match the rest of the floor. To hasten the change, rub it with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

Q. I have a two-story Colonial home built in 1993. The second floor is cantilevered about 12 inches on the front of the home. There are three air conditioning vents that bring air to my upstairs in that 12 inches. None of the pipes are wrapped, so the system is very inefficient. I have never had a problem with this, until recently.

I put a farmer’s porch on the front of my home. The front used to get so much sunlight it was hot to the touch. Now it is much cooler. On a very humid day the other day, I saw a significant amount of condensation/water coming from that 12-inch overhang and dripping down the outside of the siding. I think that there was never the problem before because the heat from the sun on the house was keeping it dry. Now I have to put a ceiling in my farmer’s porch, but do not want to do so if water will be accumulating under the roof.

My questions are as follows: 1) Is this condensation inside the home as well as the outside? 2) Is there a potential that mold is growing inside the joists? 3) Is there a way to solve this problem? 4) If I can access the area, will insulating them as best I can fix the problem?

On a side note, do you have any suggestions for an inexpensive ceiling for my farmer’s porch? I am having trouble finding ceiling rated products that are inexpensive and exterior rated.

PATRICK

A. Answers to your questions: 1) The condensation is probably all coming from the ductwork. 2) Mold will occur on a wet surface only if there are spores present. No spores, no mold. If you don’t smell anything, there probably is no mold. 3) Yes. Insulate all ducts. To do that, you have to take down portions of the ceiling. As tough as that sounds, it will stop the condensation. 4) Insulate the ducts with 1-inch duct insulation.

 For the proper ceiling, install 1x6 red cedar tongued-and-grooved boards. It’s expensive, but it’s the only decent ceiling for a porch. Do not paint or stain.

Peter Hotton is also in the g section on Thursdays. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton (photton@globe.com) also chats online 2-3 p.m. on Boston.com
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